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Lyft Driver Gets Into Fender Bender, Finds His Rideshare Insurance Doesn't Cover Damage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Schiller Park Lyft driver got into a fender bender and thought, "No worries – I pay extra for rideshare insurance."

But he got stuck with the bill, and he said his insurance company misled him. CBS 2's Tim McNicholas learned that confusion over murky coverage is a recurring theme in rideshare.

It was a trip to the airport – a hot ticket for rideshare driver Vic Vendegna.

"I'm kind of miffed," Vendegna said. "I'm on disability. I'm doing this to get some extra cash."

He's miffed because he wound up with a big bill for that November trip.

"That's almost what I've been able to save since I started driving with Lyft," Vendegna said.

You see, Vendegna backed into a truck at the start of the ride.

"This part of the bumper had popped out," he said as he displayed the damage.

The truck was unscathed, but his van had $1,800 worth of damage. He needs that money for dog food and bills.

So he tried to get his insurance company to cover the damage. After all, he pays extra to Founders for rideshare coverage.

"They said, 'Oh wait, did you have a passenger?' I said, 'Why yes, I did,'" Vendegna said. "(They said), 'Well, you're not covered if you have a passenger.'"

He said Founders told him since he was working, only Lyft's insurance could handle it – despite the special rideshare coverage.

But Lyft's policy has a $2,500 deductible, so they could not help him with his $1,800 repair.

"What I infer from that is my rideshare endorsement - insurance that I upgraded - it's basically just permission to use my vehicle that I own to go and drive for Lyft," Vendegna said.

"We hate to hear these stories, but we hear them all the time." said attorney Bryant Greening.

Greening, of the Chicago-based firm Legal Rideshare, said insurance is the most common topic in his cases. He said some policies only cover certain phases of the job – such as when you are looking for a passenger versus when you are actively driving them.

"To adequately protect yourself, you need to go into your insurance company and say: 'I want full coverage for rideshare work. I want to make sure that I am covered if I cause damage to somebody else's person or property,'" Greening said.

Greening said he would like Uber and Lyft to do a better job explaining insurance nuances to drivers.

Vendegna said Founders should have explained.

"I've rethink who gets a Christmas present," he said. "What logic would make anyone ever think that having a passenger in the vehicle isn't covered even though I've upgraded rideshare?"

But now he knows a rideshare policy will not always prevent an insurance tug-of-war.

We reached out to Founders. They would not discuss his specific case, but then suddenly, they called him and said they would cover the damage and send a check.

Vendegna said he still has not gotten a clear explanation on why Founders changed their tone or whether he was supposed to be covered. But he is happy the headache is behind him.

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